3 Steps To Protect the Supply Chain

Amid the COVID-19 Crisis, Government and Industry Must Work Together

Mar 19, 2020

SMITH BRAIN TRUST – COVID-19 is bringing a rippling cascade of shocks to the United States, most of them yet to come.

The situation requires government and industry to act now to protect the supply chain that provides food, medicine and other necessary goods, Maryland Smith’s Sandor Boyson writes.

Boyson, a research professor at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business lists three steps that must be taken to protect the U.S. supply chain:

1) Restore global production, especially in China, as quickly as possible to serve our critical industries. Right now, only China has the potential production scale to meet the soaring demand in the United States and elsewhere for such vital products as medical-protective equipment, pharmaceuticals, electronics and household essentials. The U.S. government will need emergency trade measures, such as designating key Chinese suppliers and other suppliers in areas of U.S. crucial need.

2) Preserve the operations of supply chain hubs across the country. Strategic command and control over critical supply chain assets is needed. This calls for a “U.S. Supply Chain Command Post” and an associated “Coronavirus War Room” to ensure business continuity at key ports, airports and highways. Their aim: to protect the ongoing operations of the most vital sea, air, rail and ground freight hubs. Today’s supply chain networks, routes and hub locations are known corridors for pandemic transmission.

3) Ensure delivery of needed food and medical/health supplies to homebound populations. We must quickly scale a delivery infrastructure to homebound and vulnerable populations, and to the institutions that serve them. This infrastructure would best be coordinated and executed by a national “At-Home Delivery Consortium” involving major last-mile players, such as the USPS, Amazon, Walmart, FedEx and UPS — with help from the National Guard, and funds from federal and state governments. The consortium also could assist in procuring and distributing necessary materials to U.S. anchor networks of hospitals, clinics and nursing homes. The facts, Boyson writes, show us that we must act quickly.

See Boyson's full commentary at usiscc.org or The Hill.



About the Expert(s)

Sandor Boyson

Dr. Sandor Boyson serves as Director, Supply Chain Management Center; and Research Professor at the Robert H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland, College Park; and holds an affiliate faculty appointment at the Institute Of Systems Research, Clark School Of Engineering, College Park.

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